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Podcast: Wakefern’s Chris Skyers says private label transformation under way

New brands Bowl & Basket, Paperbird off to strong start at ShopRite

Welcome to SN Off the Shelf, a podcast series from Supermarket News.

In this twice-monthly feature, SN editors talk with industry executives, experts and other grocery players about the news, trends and issues that matter most to retailers and their business partners.

Wakefern Food Corp. is reinventing private label at ShopRite, its largest retail banner, said Chris Skyers, vice president of own brands at the Keasbey, N.J.-based grocery cooperative.

In November, ShopRite launched two new private brands, Bowl & Basket and Paperbird. The initial launch to stores included about 100 food and nonfood items, and plans call for that total to grow to 300 by the year’s end.

Overall, ShopRite is slated to add more than 3,500 new own-brand products by the end of 2021. That includes new items in the coming months from the successful Wholesome Pantry organic and better-for-you label, launched in 2016.

In many respects, that brand and the new Bowl & Basket and Paperbird reflect the latest trends in private label. Wakefern noted that the two new labels — with quality equal to or better than national brands — were several years in the making, and customers provided input in their creation.

“The customer response has been tremendous and is actually exceeding our expectations,” said Skyers, who has served as VP of own brands at Wakefern since June 2018. “We always thought of this brand as a brand that was for the shopper and designed by the shopper. And our shoppers are responding extremely well for the first five weeks. So we are more than excited with the results and to see what happens next.”

The nation’s largest supermarket cooperative, Wakefern has a retail network of 353 stores in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, including 278 locations under the ShopRite banner.

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